Tablet sales tanking a bit thanks to phablet popularity

By Quinten Plummer, Tech Times | July 10, 4:28 PM

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Phablets

Smartphones move closer to tablets in size to take back some of the mobile market share. Tablet sales decline for the first time.
(Photo : Kārlis Dambrāns | Creative Commons)

The tablet market, that happy medium somewhere between smartphones and traditional computers for many users, has been gaining on desktops and laptops in units moved, but it has been losing ground to smartphones that aspire to serve as tablets -- phablets, smartphones with over-sized screens, have been playing a significant role in what has been reported as the first year to year dip in tablet sales.

After earnings failed to meet expectations in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, the NPD Group's DisplaySearch, the arm of the market research firm that looks into display sales, had to lower it forecast of tablet sales in 2015 after a slow first quarter.

In a recent report of NPD DisplaySearch's analysis of the mobile PC market, the research firm said it expected tablet sales to fall by 14 percent by the end of 2014. And while it said it expected tablet sales to trend downward in subsequent years, it projected that the slide will have slowed to single digits by 2017.

Phablets, especially handsets around 5.5 inches in size, have been projected to gnaw away at the tablet market's 7-inch range until at least 2018. NPD DisplaySearch concluded that tablet manufactures will likely think bigger to combat phablets and other devices, with 8.9 inch devices filling the place of embattled 7-inch devices and 11-inch tablets rising in prominence.

A July 7 report from Gartner, an IT research firm, reached a similar conclusion on the tablet market as NPD DisplaySearch and indicated that the next year of so of tablet sales could be driven more by affordability than functionality.

"Lower demand from users for tablets with smaller screens, some in favor of larger screens, in mature markets, and the shift towards phablets in South-East Asia are slowing global tablet penetration," reported Gartner.

On top of what NPD DisplaySearch attributed partly to delayed launches of products, Hisakazu Torii, NPD DisplaySearch's vice president of smart application research, said the decrease in demand for 7-inch tablets in China and emerging regions has had a serious impact on the global sales of tablets in 2014. He said tablet developers will have to craft a new draw to their product to stymie the global slide of tablet sales.

While NPD Display search lowered it forecast of tablet sales in its July 9 report, Gartner's July 7 projected that, while slowing down, the tablet market will outpace the sale of desktop and laptop computer in 2015. Gartner predicted that 2015 would see the sales of 320 million tablets and a combined total of 316 million desktop, laptop and ultra mobile PCs sold.

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